UNITED NATIONS, Mar 23, 2005 (AP) -- The United States circulated three Sudan resolutions Tuesday in hopes of breaking a deadlock in the U.N. Security Council and moving quickly to impose sanctions and deploy peacekeepers.
By breaking up the single resolution it has been pushing since mid-February, Washington would set aside the divisive issue of where to punish perpetrators of atrocities.
The council has been under mounting international pressure to act quickly, particularly in western Darfur where a two-year conflict has escalated. But members are divided over sanctions against the Sudanese government, and how to prosecute those accused of crimes against humanity in Darfur.
Acting U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson said the United States decided to break up the single resolution to get council action on "the two critical issues that we have to resolve that we think there's broad agreement on ... peacekeeping and sanctions."
The issue of punishing perpetrators of violence is the most divisive because nine of the 15 council members want prosecutions to be conducted at the International Criminal Court. That was the recommendation of a U.N. Commission of Inquiry which said crimes against humanity _ but not genocide _ probably occurred in Darfur.
The United States, however, opposes the the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal and wants suspects to be tried by a new tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania. Another possibility is an African-run tribunal recently proposed by Nigeria, which currently heads the African Union.
In an attempt to break the impasse, the United States split up its original resolution and handed three new draft resolutions to council members Tuesday afternoon. The council will discuss the drafts Wednesday.
"We just can't delay any longer," Patterson said. "We know there's not agreement on accountability. We must get those peacekeepers in there and we must get some kind of sanctions regime in place."
She said the United States was pushing for a vote on those two resolutions later Wednesday or Thursday.
Brazil's U.N. Ambassador Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg, who supports the idea of three resolutions, said "there is tremendous public interest" in Sudan and the council has "to start taking action, even if it is a modest action" to maintain its credibility.
The initial thrust of the resolution was to deploy a 10,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping force to help monitor a peace accord ending the 21-year civil war between the government and southern rebels, and this is the key provision in the peacekeeping resolution.
It will also strengthen the new Sudanese government which will include southern rebel leader John Garang, and "it will get more boots on the ground," Patterson said.
But with the death toll in Darfur now estimated at 180,000 and the conflict forcing more than 2 million people to flee their homes in the vast western region, the United States and other members insisted that the deteriorating situation there must also be addressed.
Conflict has engulfed Darfur since February 2003, when two non-Arab rebel groups took up arms against the Arab-dominated government to win more political and economic rights for the region's African tribes.
Sudan's Arab government is accused of responding by backing Janjaweed militiamen who have carried out rapes and killings against Sudanese of African origin. The government denies backing the Janjaweed.
Patterson said the peacekeeping resolution also asks U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to make recommendations on strengthening the 2,200-strong African Union force in Darfur.
Council members agree on the peackeeping provisions, though diplomats are concerned that a large U.N. peacekeeping force will be deployed in quiet areas monitoring the north-south peace deal, while the much smaller African force is struggling on its own to help end a brutal and nasty conflict in Darfur.
The sanctions resolution is expected to face some opposition. China's U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya has said his government has problems with sanctions. Diplomats said it's still unclear whether Beijing or Moscow would veto a sanctions resolution.
U.S. deputy ambassador Stuart Holliday said the U.S. draft would extend an arms embargo already in force in Darfur for both black African rebel groups and the Janjaweed to include Sudan's government.
"This is just a way of establishing a firmer handle, both for the African Union and for the council, on what is going to Darfur specifically," Holliday said in an interview.
The sanctions resolution would also impose a travel ban and asset freeze against those who block peace efforts, threaten stability in Darfur, violate international, humanitarian or human rights law, or are responsible for military overflights.